A live-action series adaptation of Italian comic creator Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese is setting sail with Studiocanal and Frank Miller. The Sin City writer and artist, who co-directed the 2005 film adaptation of his Dark Horse graphic novel with Robert Rodriguez, will serve as creator, writer, and executive producer of the six-episode Corto Maltese series in partnership with France's Canal+ channel. (A live-action film about the seafaring adventurer was announced in 2018 with Tom Hughes and Mila Jovovich set to star in the swashbuckler flick from TriPictures, but that project was scrapped.) Deadline first reported the news.
"I first discovered Corto Maltese reading the books at Forbidden Planet in New York as a young man," said Miller, the famed comic creator behind The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, 300, and Daredevil: Born Again. "Then on my travels, I studied and discovered an edition at a newsstand in Rome. The artwork was so expressive and so bold that it leapt off the newsprint. It swept me away. It was full of magic and romantic adventure. Maltese is a rascal who could talk to the gods. To me it showed off the power of the comic where language is not much of a barrier. I have been a Corto Maltese fan ever since."
Miller's statement continued: "This is the hero's journey in its most classic form, and I couldn't be more honored to help bring into this series the romanticism, heroism, and underlying mysticism of Pratt's creation."
Originating in Pratt's Ballad of the Salty Sea in 1967, Corto Maltese is a 20th century treasure-hunting sailor who has traveled the world, encountering such figures as Rasputin, Jack London, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on his legendary adventures. Executive producing the live-action series is Jemma Rodgers (The Railway Children Return) with Silenn Thomas (300, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), CEO of Frank Miller Ink.
Oscar-winning visual effects creator Phil Tippett (the original Star Wars trilogy, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Willow, Jurassic Park) will create the world of Corto Maltese, described as a heroic adventurer, a mystical expeditionary, and a multi-cultural hero compared to legendary Lucasfilm creations like Indiana Jones and Han Solo of Star Wars.
Miller also revealed his vision for the Corto Maltese series:
I wish to play up the romance, the heroism and the underlying mysticism of Pratt's creation. This is a rascal who could talk to the gods. Corto is not the weathered pirate he is to become when we meet him. He is the young adventurer out to discover the world and making a lot of money doing it. But just like Odysseus, he has no idea what a wild world he is to discover. It is a world full of magic and horrors.
For the pilot, I wish to establish a grand hero in a grand and terrible world but above all, it is an adventure story starring an adventure hero. While we will learn a lot about his character, we will learn it on the run. We will start the series with the first image staring Corto square in the face. While the camera and the action will move all over the place, the story will always stare Corto straight in the face. To quote Raymond Chandler, 'He is the hero, he is everything.'
Said Patrizia Zanotti, a collaborator of the late Pratt: "Who better to reinterpret Hugo Pratt's world than Frank Miller after all the characters and worlds the legendary creator has brought to us? Pratt would be thrilled to see his character Corto Maltese revived through an author who has the extraordinary ability to carry on timeless myths introducing iconic characters to new generations. Pratt has said through one of his characters that 'nothing is written that cannot be rewritten.' I believe that no one else other than Frank Miller could interpret the creative impulse inherent in this phrase."